Greek Parliament approves law on same-sex civil partnerships

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A controversial bill granting an extension of civil partnerships to same-sex couples passed in Parliament late on Tuesday with 193 votes and on the strength of most parties, while three others, including most of the junior ruling coalition party, voted against it. A total of 249 deputies were present at the vote, which was also noteworthy for the large number of deputies who did not attend the process.

The bill was sponsored by the ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights under the title “Agreement on cohabitation, exercise of rights, and criminal and other regulations”.

It was voted by majority rule party SYRIZA and Democratic Coalition, To Potami, Union of Centrists, as well as 19 deputies from main opposition New Democracy (ND) and another 3 from ruling coalition party Independent Greeks (ANEL), whose leader, Panos Kammenos was absent.

All deputies of extreme-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voted against it.

Also voting against it were 29 ND deputies and one of the independent deputies.

There were several absent deputies, including 27 from ND, 10 deputies of KKE and another independent deputy.

There were also several deputies who voted for it during the first (in principle) vote and against specific articles in the second (per article) vote.

Earlier, in his address to Parliament, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that the vote puts an end to a period of backwardness and shame for the Greek state.

“With the legalization of civil partnership for same-sex couples closes a cycle of backwardness and shame for the Greek state, of denial and marginalization of a large part of our fellow citizens, who were not allowed to live together with their partner and enjoying basic rights and which led the Greece to convictions by the European Court of Human Rights,” Tsipras said in his short address to lawmakers.

The premier said this day is “not befitting celebrations but of an apology” to the people who until now lacked human rights enjoyed by other citizens in countries with advanced legal systems, and in particular on the right “to stand on an equal footing to human suffering before the law.”

He also admitted the law is long overdue, even in terms of his government’s brief term. “This bill should have passed years ago, and maybe even months ago, as far as our government is concerned.”